Currently viewing the category: "Bees"

Golden Bee on Don Juan Rose
This bee seemed to be coming out of a pupae ? state since it couldn’t fly at the time these pictures were taken. I live in Tucson, AZ. and I also have a nest of giant Carpenter Bees in my back yard. Although they are black and do not appear to have a stinger. Could this be a youngster or a Queen? Thought you might like to see the pictures. I know you guys are busy! This was just a curiosity not an emergency. Sincerely,
Steve Dennett

Hi Steve,
The Valley Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa varipunctata, is sexually dimorphic. The female is the large black bee you mention, and the male is the lovely golden bee in your photo. These bees are found in California, Arizona and Baja California Mexico.

Would love ID on this bee
Hi there,
My son and I noticed a bee we’ve not seen before visiting our flowers this summer. I know you are swamped, but I couldn’t find one like it on your bee page. It is over 1.5″ long. We saw a smaller variant also, about 1″, but I couldn’t nab a picture of it. Your site is our favorite on the Web. I’m glad and sad you are so popular.
Scott Williams and Kyle Mink

Hi Scott and Kyle,
Thanks for the compliment. We wish you had provided us with global coordinates. We are checking to see if Eric Eaton recognizes this bee which has us baffled. Eric quickly wrote back: “The bee is a male ‘giant resin bee,’ Megachile sculpturalis, an introduced species from Asia, sometime in the 1990s. It would help to know where this shot was taken, so as to help track the progress of this species. Females nest in the abandoned tunnels bored by carpenter bees. Eric”

D’Oh! Sorry! We are in Ann Arbor Michigan. My son is convinced it is a hybridized African bee — finally making it up this far north. He normally is on target ID’ing insects (ever since the age of 3, and he’s 11 now). Thanks!
Scott and Kyle

Every once in awhile, the What’s That Bug? editorial staff needs to dust off the camera to get a photo just to prove we can. While gardening today, we were observing a pretty little bee we have seen in the summer in the past, but are unsure as to its identity. It flies very rapidly, and in flight, it looks pale blue. It has a striped abdomen and the ventral surface is bright yellow. There are not noticeable pollen sacs and we are wondering if the bee collects pollen on the hairs of the abdomen. If flies very quickly and erratically, and is difficult to capture photographically. After about a half an hour, our efforts were rewarded. Now we hope Eric Eaton can tell us what this beauty is.

Within minutes, Eric wrote back: “Daniel, Yes, it is a female leafcutter bee, genus Megachile, and yes, she does collect pollen in a dense brush of hairs on the underside of her abdomen. Leafcutter bees nest in pre-existing tunnels in wood (some species do make burrows in the ground). They fashion individual, barrel-shaped cells from plant cuttings. A leafcutter can shear a perfectly oval (or round) piece from a leaf in under 30 seconds! The round pieces cap the finished cell. Inside each cell she packs a ball of pollen and nectar for a single offspring. She lays an egg in the finished cell, caps it, then begins a new cell stacked atop the first, repeating this for the length of the tunnel. These are amazing insects, and vital pollinators of both wild and cultivated plants. Eric”

unknown bee
I’ve attached an image of a bee I encountered in northern Georgia next to a lake. It appeared to be excavating a hole in a sandy wall, nearby there were hundreds of these holes, I assume also by these bees. I looked on your site and thought for a second it could be a plasterer bee. Any idea?

Hi Anthony,
We agree that this is a Plasterer Bee in the family Colletidae. According to the Audubon Guide: “The Plasterer Bee lines its underground chambers with a thin, delicate, cellophane-like coating of saliva, suggesting its common name.”

lost wool carder bee-mail
Dear Bugfolks–
Greetings from St. Louis, Missouri. Way back on June 23d, I sent you guys an e-mail about wool carder bees, but I’m guessing it either never got to you or got lost in WTB’s server upheaval shortly thereafter. So. I’ma try again. In May, I noticed a bee I had never seen before acting very territorial–chasing other bees and hoverflies away from all the patches of lamb’s ear on my front slope. Searching Missouri bees and North American bees online turned up no matches. “Hm,” thinks I, “Perhaps an exotic?” A website from the UK had pics of my guy listed as Anthidium manicatum, commonly known as the wool carder bee after the habit of the female of gathering fibers from furry-leaved plants to line its nest. Searching the scientific name turned up information regarding its introduction into the U.S., including a study by a team from Ohio State published in 2002 documenting expansion of its range westward; at that time, it wasn’t believed to have made it to St. Louis yet. I tried to get in touch with the study’s authors, and eventually contacted Dr. Randy Mitchell who said, “Yeah, that sure looks like A. manicatum,” and asked me to send specimens, but by that time, the lamb’s ear was done blooming and my little A. manicatum (assuming that ID is correct) community defunct for the season. Sigh. The timing on this identification endeavor has been entirely off. Anyway, I didn’t see A. manicatum or any of its Anthidium relatives on your site (WTB was the first site I checked in IDing my mystery bee), so I’m attaching four pictures that you’re welcome to use however you like. The first and second are male and female wool carders at rest. The third is tragically blurry, I know, of the male in flight, showing (if you look closely at the back end of the abdomen) the three spikes he uses to savage other bees when they don’t take a gentle hint and leave (I saw him do this! Wow!). The fourth is of a lamb’s ear leaf which the female has been “carding”: she has little scissor-like bits on her mouth with which she clips off the fibers; I watched her do this and then gather up in a ball and carry it back to her nest (in this case, a cavity in a large rock on my front slope, which is now neatly packed full of “wool” and, one assumes, eggs and food). Sorry this is so danged long; watching the activities of this bee community all spring was fascinating, and so I tend to blather on about it. I really appreciate your site and have been addicted to it ever since I used it to ID a Megarhyssa atrata which came to visit me in my kitchen; you set my mind at rest that I wasn’t halucinating GIANT SIX INCH WASPS!
patty d. kocot

male Wool Carder Bee female Wool Carder Bee

Dear Patty,
We are so sorry to have lost your original email and are thrilled you have resent it. We are happy to have received your photos. Your letter and all the research is absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information with our readership.

wood eater / wood nester?
Good day Bugman,
I live in a log home. I recently found that one of the logs holding up one end of my front porch awning was damaged at its base. I started to pick away at the wood, thinking first it was water damage. As I continued to dig my fingers vertically up through the center of the log, I found a bunch of shiny, greenish, winged bugs with antani on their heads. They are a little over a 1/4" long and 1/16" wide. The look abit like one would think a "green hornet" would look. I thought they were termites, but I looked up termite on google and did not find a photo that matched my bug. Any idea what this bug is?
Robert Nieminen
Southbury, CT

Hi Robert,
We believe this is a Green Metallic Bee in the genus Augochlora, in the Halictid Family. According to the Audubon Guide: the “Female digs nest of many branching burrows in dead wood or uses pre-existing borrows of other insects. Female supplies each cell with pollen ball and nectar, and lays an egg on each ball. Larvae or pupae overwinter. Adults emerge in spring.”